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The books in this section cover a range of PSHE topics including bullying, disability, mental health issues and eating disorders. There are both fiction and non-fiction titles and cover age ranges from Toddler to Older Teen.
You can always trust Tony Ross to teach little ones a useful lesson with loads of humour and the perfect level of cheekiness. The grown-ups keep telling the Little Princess to wash her hands – after she’s been playing in the mud, after she’s used her potty, and after she’s sneezed, but why, she asks. The maid explains, gleefully and very vividly, and you can guarantee the Little Princess will never not wash her hands again. She still gets the last word, and the last laugh though! Full of Ross's brilliant touches of characterisation and silliness, this will be a hit with toddlers and parents alike.
Empowering Advice for Teenage Life | From finding your sparkle (which the author defines as “unleashing the natural talent inside you” and "feeling and believing you can do anything”), to dealing with anti-social media, Suzanne Virdee’s A Girls’ Guide to Being Awesome is a pitch-perfect guidebook for girls navigating the confusing path to adulthood. The author, an award-winning TV journalist and radio broadcaster, contextualises her approach and advice through her experience as a tenacious, aspiring journalist who refused to give up. Sassy inspirational soundbites (“life is tough but so are you”; “success is a decision”; “don’t wish for it, work for it”) sit alongside detailed discussions of big issues, among them education, anxiety, sex and online grooming. The book also suggests empowering practical exercises, and provides nicely-designed space for readers to jot down their own thoughts on the likes of dreams and ambitions, using one’s sparkle, social media, and feminist icons, which will surely prompt deeper thinking and help young women hone valuable life skills.
Not since Adrian Mole opened his diary have the thoughts and innermost feelings of an adolescent boy been examined so precisely or with such heart. Stan is twelve, shy and a worrier, so the thought of a holiday in Italy with his friend Felix and Felix’s family freaks him out. He’s going though: we meet him at the airport drawing up a ‘duck-it’ list of things he hopes he’ll never have to do. Little does he know that he’ll tick off six out of ten of them on his holiday, and enjoy it too. The first-person narrative lets us in on all Stan’s thoughts, but he’s a good observer of others so we learn loads about the others in the holiday party too, kids and grown-ups. There are laugh-out-loud scenes and moments of pure agony, and through it all Stan is learning loads about himself and life in general. Honest, revealing, compassionate and so entertaining, this is a must read for all the Stans out there – adults, give yourselves a treat and read it too.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month March 2021 | Fitting in is hard for most teenagers because it is a time when being the same and therefore accepted seems the most important thing. And Sander has a particular problem because he has Silver-Russell syndrome, a condition which affects one in a hundred thousand, which means he will always be shorter than everyone else. Sander has to work through all the familiar feelings of being an outsider while also dealing with feelings that relate especially to knowing that he will always be so short. But gradually Sander discovers that much about confirming is unimportant and that what matters most to him, friendship in particular, is not affected by his size. Beautifully observed, this captures so much about adolescence from many angles and, in doing so, celebrates the importance of accepting difference. Find more books with Positive Images of Disability.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month February 2021 | Selected for The Book Box by LoveReading4Kids | February 2021 Debut of the Month | Both touching and funny this is a brilliant story about being brave, being different and learning that being you is what really matters. Billy likes nothing more than making and performing jokes and dreams that one day he will be a famous stand-up comedian. But Billy has a stammer and it can be hard for him even to get a joke out quickly enough. Just now, Billy has a problem which will strike a chord with many: he is about to start secondary school and knows that it will be all too easy for him to become a target for bullies. Especially because of his stammer. Billy thinks of all kinds of schemes to avoiding speaking while also knowing that staying silent goes right against who he really is. How can Billy show his tremendous inner strength and especially his great sense of humour if he never dares to speak? Luckily Billy makes some good friends, meets a great teacher and, drawing on the support of his family and the work of his speech and language therapist, manages not only to survive but also to succeed! Find more books with Positive Images of Disability.
February 2021 Book of the Month | Renée Watson is one of my favourite contemporary YA writers and her latest novel, Love is a Revolution, embodies everything that makes her stories shine - it’s honest, relatable, driven by an inspiring Black girl, and sparkles with a self-empowerment vibe. Nala’s summer plans are sent reeling when she goes to an open mic night for her “cousin-sister-friend” Imani’s birthday, an event organised by the Harlem Inspire community project Imani is heavily involved with. Here Nala fall head-over-heels for committed activist Tye and finds herself telling little white lies to impress him - that she’s vegan, that she’s running a big project at her Jamaican Grandma’s Senior Living residence. Talking of Grandma, I especially loved the book’s beautiful portrayal of inter-generational relationships - the shared wisdom, the compassion and kindness, the sense of family and community, and Nala’s body positive exuberance is uplifting too. Her disorientation and self-doubt derive from elsewhere, like not knowing what she wants to do with her life, and feeling she’s not good enough, not quite worthy of Tye’s love. Though fireworks explode when Nala’s fibs are found out, after taking Grandma’s advice on-board to the empowering soundtrack of her favourite musician, she discovers that self-love and self-care are forms of revolution - they’re her route to transformative self-acceptance through embracing who she really is.
February 2021 Book of the Month | Written and illustrated by Jion Sheibani, Sohal Finds a Friend is a sweet side-splitting story that will provide much comfort to little worriers as they enjoy an adventure in the company of an endearing boy and his furry friends. It’s a brilliant way to help children understand their anxieties and express themselves - think Pixar’s Inside Out in book form. Sohal is one of life’s worriers and dreads bedtime, when “the darkness would grow and grow, until it filled every part of his body”. His dad’s suggestion of calm breathing doesn’t help, and his mum’s suggestion of counting sheep is useless too, for in Sohal’s mind they’re transformed into mutant alien sheep fleeing a giant robot wolf! But everything changes when he draws the monsters that plague him and…THEY COME TO LIFE! With Hurt, Fail, Anger, Big, and Alone for company, Sohal’s attention is diverted to worrying about them - what will everyone at school think? – but it’s not long before The Worries help him understand and control his own worries, while providing a whole lot of fun. Funny, with thoughtful themes that foster off-the-page dialogue, this is a warm-hearted winner for 5+ year-olds. You can find more books on this theme in our Anxiety & Wellbeing collection.
March 2021 Book of the Month | Calling all parents facing food-related meltdowns! After introducing your food-fussy progeny to this instructive interactive picture book, you’ll never need to make a meal of meal-time again. Recommended by paediatric dieticians, it introduces children to a rainbow of delicious food through a fun family-oriented story. What’s more, the story can be lived off-the-page during real-life trips to the supermarket, helping to convince hard-to-please kids to try new foods and, as a result, it’s also certain to please parents frazzled by food-related friction. The story begins with Mummy despairing of the food in the cupboard. “She couldn’t find anything she wanted to make for dinner… I’m so bored of beige!” she grumbles. So, after deciding that “what we need is some colour!” Mummy heads to the supermarket, where she challenges her two toddlers to pick three kinds of food, the only proviso being that they must be red. Then follows a delightfully illustrated page of ravishing red foods that invites readers to decide what they’d choose. Each day they return to the shop, where the kids are issued with a fresh challenge - pick three yellow foods, three green, three orange, three purple. By the time Saturday comes around and the kids find Mummy eating a boring beige croissant, they make her a special colourful breakfast.
Selected for The Book Box by LoveReading4Kids | From the author of Fall Out, Gut Feelings is a powerful autobiographical novel-in-verse charting a boy’s life-changing operation at the age of eleven through to his hopeful young adulthood as a gay man. Sure to be enjoyed by fans of Sarah Crossan and Dean Atta’s The Black Flamingo, it’s both beautifully written and easy to read, with an impactful, unsentimental voice. There’s no self-pity here, despite the harrowing nature of what he endures. Diagnosed with FAP (Familial adenomatous polyposis, a rare genetic condition in which a person develops precancerous polyps in the large intestine), Chris must have a total colectomy. His state of fear, isolation and loneliness is palpable as he describes the enemas and bedsores, and the morphine which evaporates his “maelstrom of fears, failures, social pressures”. Recovering in hospital, well-meaning visitors “have no idea what it’s like/To be confined to this prison, Bars lining the windows, Double glazing boxing me in - These familiar faces have/No idea how to reach me”. Then, once home, he feels abandoned: “The surgery has fixed me - I’m no longer worthy/Of attention and support.” And this isn’t the first time Chris has experienced adversity, for alongside the direct, detached exposition of his present-day existence, we learn of Chris’s troubled background - the father who had a debilitating stroke, the school peers who bullied him. Then, in time, through the darkest of days, comes a turning point when he realises that “Some will accept me, Some will reject me/But I must learn to love myself Because I am done with fitting in” and he shifts towards renewal and hope - “I’ll keep writing, Keep learning/Until I am/Free to embrace Who I am.” Illuminating on living with chronic invisible illness, this story lingers long in the soul, and special mention must go to the book’s design and layout, with letters and words perfectly positioned as visual markers of emotional states. Find more books with Positive Images of Disability.
January 2021 Book of the Month | Worries – they’re easy to acquire and then, before you know it, they’ve taken over and are with you all the time, interrupting your fun, spoiling playtime, keeping you awake at night. Don’t worry though, help is at hand. The little boy in this story takes his Worry to a Worry Expert who has lots of advice and suggestions that successfully send the Worry away, even though it has got really big. The Worry is portrayed as a colourful, lively scribble, cheerful and smiling though clearly a real pest. The approach taken will help children prone to worrying feel they’re not alone and the Worry Expert’s advice will work for everyone. Written in a fluid rhyming text and with bold, child-friendly illustrations, this is a great book to share and will be really helpful for anxious children. You can find more books on this theme in our Anxiety & Wellbeing collection.
The young person's guide to a plant-based lifestyle | Full of information and sensible advice, this is an excellent guidebook for any young person who is considering turning vegan, or who just wants to cut back on meat and dairy. For one thing, it is packed with delicious and faff-free vegan recipes, easy to follow, easy to make and certain to be a hit with everyone in the family, even dyed-in-the-wool carnivores; but it’s also full of equally useful and appealing information on the whys of being vegan. Niki Webster explains it all in a way that feels friendly and do-able, making sure to answer FAQs on getting enough protein and vitamins as well as on the best vegan substitutes, and laying out clearly, but with a sense of passion, why veganism is about more than just food and diet. The illustrations and design make this look good enough to eat, and it successfully provides lots of food for thought too.
A Complete (and Completely Disgusting) Guide to the Human Body | This is an information text that will be read with great pleasure and is actually as unputdownable as a novel. It is very apparent that the multimillion-copy selling author and medical doctor has never grown out of his gleeful fascination with the human machine and has a real knack for presenting complex facts both clearly and concisely while making the reader laugh out loud. Similarly, the illustrations by Henry Parker combine accurate explanatory diagrams and zany amusing cartoons, often on the same page. Much of the humour is, of course, derived from the more disgusting aspects of the internal and external body and to making fun of the complicated language and terminology doctors and scientists use, but nonetheless using and explaining all those terms. Indeed the book concludes with a brilliantly educative glossary (and even the jokes are indexed!) A running gag is Clive and the ‘naming committee’ responsible for naming body parts, as is the continued references to the author’s dog Pippin, but always in a way which enhances an explanation or a description and develops understanding. Chapters cover all the organs and systems of the body as well as reproduction, life and death and germs (including COVID-19) and include Kay’s Kwestions (another running gag about needing a replacement Q on his keyboard) and True or Poo sections which answer the sort of questions inquisitive children will be dying to ask and expose the myths, misinformation and old wives tales that you might have heard. He does not shrink from difficult topics or giving unpopular advice – junk food, smoking and drinking really are bad for you and washing your hands properly is important. As genuinely useful as any textbook or revision guide, I would suggest multiple copies will be needed to satisfy demand in any school library.
I am the mother of two teenagers and I also work for a social mobility charity working to encourage students to aim high for their futures, so I was keen to read this. I have only seen a PDF copy but I was very impressed by the content, layout and ideas. The book is written for teenagers, to explain how important it is that they mix up their studies with exercise, socialising, sleep, etc. The book explains all the science behind the suggestions and features reports from students about how they discovered they needed to make changes. Lots of common sense ideas, especially about the impact of mobile phones. There is also a section at the end with advice for parents and teachers. This appears to be a useful book for students. Karen Kingston, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
As Tough Women’s subtitle declares, these are “stories of grit, courage and determination”. True tales from twenty-two tough women who undertake awe-inspiring adventures across the globe, from canoeing the Canadian wilderness, to hiking Pakistan, to cycling South America. Its editor is the intrepid Jenny Tough, a Canadian mountaineering expert who notes in her introduction that “the outdoor industry is actually fully of women, but when it comes to the highest level of media…the demographic dwindles to one”. Fortunately, this sexist state of affairs could be on the verge of changing - through giving voice to the “badass outdoorswomen” who here tell their extraordinary stories, this book might just change that narrow narrative and inspire new generations of female adventuresses. Each account enthrals like the best kind of travel writing. There are dazzling evocations of, for example, rugged Himalayan mountain-scapes, lush South American jungles, and howling Norwegian glacial valleys. Many of the women’s stories reveal monumental physical and emotional challenges - challenges tackled and overcome with super-human strength and resilience - and all of them underpinned by a joyously life-affirming spirit of curiosity. For more books with a strong, feminist theme, visit our Girl Power feature.
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